Stephen Biddle's and Jacob Shapiro's New Article in the Atlantic: The Problem with Vows to the Islamic State

August 22, 2016

GW Professor Stephen Biddle and his co-author, Prof. Jacob Shapiro of Princeton, argue in the Atlantic that proposals to escalate or accelerate the campaign in Iraq and Syria in order to hasten ISIS' defeat would accomplish a lot less than commonly supposed. The problem isn't taking Mosul or Raqqa - it's what would come afterward. 

Stabilization is unlikely without an investment vastly larger than most Americans will support. But short of this, pulling down the ISIS black flag will simply lead to continued internal violence with a different cast of characters. When the next Islamist militant group in the queue steps up to claim ISIS' vanguard status, today's debate over ISIS will then just repeat itself. One way or another, we're going to be stuck with containing, not actually ending, the threat now represented by the Islamic State. Given this, a policy of drawing a line in the sand to destroy ISIS but then contain all the others, rather than merely containing ISIS, too, offers smaller benefits than many now claim.

The article can be found at